Prospective executive teams begin their campaigns
Two executive teams will campaign for student body president and executive vice president starting midnight on Thursday. Elections will open to the student body on April 17.
“At the executive level, the competition is incredibly high and comparable,” said senate’s current executive vice president Alicia Smit. “We have two teams whose members have had high involvement on campus in the past and are more than competent to lead the student body.”
Sam Schuiteman and Maggie Van Winkle, both junior pre-med students, form the first campaign team.
“We’re running for senate. Running for you,” reads their campaign slogan.
Van Winkle is currently a student senator, while Schuiteman was a student senator his freshman year, and subsequently served as an RA and an Orientation Intern.
“A lot of these experiences made me want to return to senate,” Schuiteman said, while Van Winkle hopes to continue the work she started as a senator.
“I’d love to have the knowledge that we’ve gained this year carry over,” Van Winkle said.
Both recognize senate’s challenges in informing the student body. “The work that senate does sometimes isn’t in plain view or obvious,” Schuiteman said, voicing a commitment to make senate more accessible. “We hope to build an open environment.”
They also want to put a heavy focus on governance. “That’s definitely what we think student senate is supposed to do,” said Schuiteman, “to be the bridge between students and faculty. We think that’s where student senate has really found its strength over the last few years.”
Schuiteman and Van Winkle encourage students to come to them with their concerns and questions. “This not only helps us make a connection with students, but then if we are on the executive team next year, we already know what people are interested in,” said Van Winkle.
“It helps educate us, but also helps them know what we can do,” said Schuiteman.
Schuiteman also emphasized how important the commitment was to him. “I’m taking 12 credits both semesters,” he said. “This is something that I’ve been wanting to do ever since I got off of Orientation Board and I’ve built my schedule around it.”
Van Winkle has also cleared her year of commitments. “We’re really serious about this,” Schuiteman continued. “We’ve been considering this since January, and we’re taking it really seriously.
Jona Eigege is currently on an off-campus semester in Washington D.C., but flew in for the week to campaign for student body president. He reached out to Laura Sterenberg, a junior strategic communications major, to be his campaign partner.
“We’ve both been actively involved on campus, and we both reflect the kind of leadership that senate needs,” said Eigege.
Eigege, an international relations and business major, served on student senate his first two years at Calvin. He was an Orientation Assistant for International PASSPORT and served on the Orientation Board the following year. Eigege, who is from Nigeria, also started the African Students Organization, which grew to over 50 members in its first year and was nominated for student association of the year.
Sterenberg has found her community in Calvin’s choirs. “I’ve been really involved in women’s chorale and capella,” she said. “It’s more than an extracurricular for me, it’s about the community.” She was also an orientation leader and is an intern for Knights 4 Life, Calvin’s association for students and alumni.
Eigege and Sterenberg are campaigning under the slogan, “Refocus. Reconnect. React.” They want to reexamine how student senate interacts with the student body. “We want people to know we are their classmates, their roommates, their floormates,” said Sterenberg. “If we have something that we can do for you, we’re going to do it.”
Eigege is concerned that senate hasn’t been representing the majority of the student body. “As someone who was on senate for two years, I know that senate gets stuff done. But the way that we’ve been working in the past is that we sit back and wait for people to come to us.” His campaign will focus on reaching out to all students, not just the ones who come to them.
Eigege’s absence has caused some problems, but through texting, phone meetings and other accommodations, he and Sterenberg have managed to work together.
“With every campaign trail, you’re going to have issues. We just dealt with what we had to deal with,” said Sterenberg.
“It has all worked out,” added Eigege.
Besides the executive teams, student senate also has two candidates for three vice president positions, and 10 applicants for six senator positions. Candidates will speak more about their platforms at a debate on April 15 at 8 p.m. in DeVos lobby.
Current senate leadership encourages all students to come out and vote. Says Smit, “By voting, students are participating in a process essential to student representation.”